What Does It Mean When a Probate Case Has a “Final Accounting”?
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
May 6th, 2021
In Florida probate cases, one of the biggest potential sticking points is the final accounting. This is especially true when the probate is contested, or when the beneficiaries are uncooperative.
The final accounting requires the personal representative to provide all parties involved with a final opportunity to confirm that all assets, and in some cases debts, were administered correctly during the probate period.
Accounting can be complex, so it’s important to review a final accounting with your probate attorney if you have questions, especially if the will has been contested or undergone any other probate litigation.
What Is the Final Accounting?
According to Florida Probate Rule 5.346, a final accounting must include “all cash and property transactions since the date of the last accounting or, if none, from the commencement of administration, and a schedule of assets at the end of the administration period.”
The purpose of the final accounting is to provide transparency during the probate process in order to allow the interested persons to see what happened to the estate’s assets during administration of the probate.
How Can I Access It?
Final accountings are kept confidential by the court clerk, so are not public record. However, the accounting must be disclosed to any interested persons of the estate.
You are considered an interested person if you may reasonably be affected by the outcome of the probate proceeding.
This can include:
- Beneficiaries under the probated will
- In the case of a will contest, beneficiaries under a previous will
- Heirs of the deceased person (decedent)
- Qualified trust beneficiaries
Under Florida law, the probate court will determine whether you are considered an interested person in this particular case.
Generally, interested persons should receive notice of the final accounting that was filed with the probate court. If you do not receive the final accounting, you can request it from the personal representative’s attorney.
If the attorney does not provide you with the final accounting, you can request it from the court clerk. To do this, you will need to present the clerk with identification showing that you are an interested person in the estate.
What Is the Time for Objection to a Final Accounting?
Under Florida law, you are allowed to object to a final accounting within 30 days of receiving it. Generally, you will receive it via registered mail from the attorney’s office, and this time period begins when you sign the read receipt.
Should you request the final accounting from the court clerk and be granted access, you will have 30 days from this date to contest the accounting.
Although 30 days seems like a lot of time, reviewing can actually be quite complex, and could require the help of a probate attorney. Your attorney can also help you review the costs and benefits of filing an objection.
If you’re involved in a probate case and want to learn more about the final accounting or other steps of the probate process, get in touch.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
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